For my end of first year assessment, I set up my provided space as if it was an abandoned museum. It is very similar to what I did at CSN in some ways, but this time I had more space and could decorate the space with a layer of dirt and dust to give it that abandoned feeling. I also had a velvet and mahogany display case, again dusty, that really helped bring out the museum feel, and I typed and printed little information plaques to go with each piece. Like a lot of my work, the museum is set in the world in which the Tweedles live, and the plaques reflect this. I hope you enjoy browsing through my photos and thanks for reading!
I will be going away for about two weeks on holiday and will not be able to post for some time. Just letting you guys know! :)
Chiaroscuro “is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.” – Wikipedia
I thought I’d begin this post with a quote from Wikipedia. My recent Tweedle paintings have taken a darker turn, and I thought I might elaborate on them today. A few years ago I came up with the Tweedles without really knowing what to do with them. They were a creation without a purpose. I have given them rules, emotions, a mind, a soul… each of them even has its own backstory, and the story of Tweedles as a species (which I am still writing. Maybe I should try making a graphic novel rather than writing a book…) exists entirely in my head at the moment, awaiting it’s manifestation onto canvas, text, video and music. But even so, I still had no idea where I was going with my Tweedles… They were my creations, but they had no purpose. No reason to exist in my artwork. And then I realised that they were my creations. They were what humans are to a god. They were artificial life of a sort, and I began to explore that.
In my fictional world, Tweedles are created with artifical brains, mixing organic matter with analog and digital technology in nano scale. Because of the way they are made, they think, but differently to us. They feel, but do not understand how to express their emotions (especially with a stitched on mouth that holds their head cloth in place). They can sense the world around them, but cannot truly touch it. Tweedles don’t instinctively have free-will, and need to learn how to be free. Their existence is a confusing one once they can actually develop enough to stop and think about it. Their creators are not omnipresent. They are not omnibenevolent. They create Tweedles for reasons more linked to power and greed, and they create the Tweedles for reasons that are not entirely good but in fact selfish in some ways. Tweedles are made to be servants and slaves. The eventual development of true emotion and free will is just a side-effect of their construction.
I thought about how that would relate to what it’s like to be human. To live and die without knowing why. What your purpose is, if you have one. A lot of people live lives dedicated to a god or supreme being, but without ever questioning whether their creator is really omnibenevolent at all. The amount of suffering in this world seems unjust. Perhaps there is an evil, possibly sadistic being that enjoys messing around with humanity for entertainment? I was thinking about these deep philosophical and theological concepts and questions, and then suddenly the Tweedles had purpose after all. They were a vehicle for this philosophical exploration into life, death, morality, the creators and the created… through painting my recent Tweedle pictures, I am confronting some of my strongest fears in regards my spirituality, humanity and existence. I wouldn’t really call myself a spiritual person, but if there is a god, how do I know they are good? If he told me that he was, could I really trust them? And in regards free will, I assume that it exists because I think I can make decisions. But do I really have free will? When we look closely, living cells are made up of lots of dead matter and elements that are having a chemical reaction with each other to make the next part have a reaction and so on. Theoretically our entire bodies are a prolonged chemical reaction, so does that mean that we are even alive, or is humanity (and by extension all life) a strange and complicated quirk of chemistry that never was ‘alive’ in the way we believe we are?
Tweedles are made up of a few bio-engineered and grown brain cells linked into mechanisms and machines which allow them to move their bodies, repair it, respond to stimuli and even potentially build more Tweedles… but by our current definitions of life they are not alive because they are not composed entirely of cells. Are they alive or not?
Is this Tweedle really dead or can it be repaired and brought back? Was it ever actually alive, and were we as humans ever truly alive?
By using heavy, dark backgrounds in the paintings (a greenish-black colour) I could help express the gravity of these questions and the weight the answers would have on us if we ever knew them. I wanted to highlight the Tweedles in bright colour to emphasize that they are surrounded by darkness. The specific Tweedle that is the subject through my recent series of paintings walks its entire life treading through the unknown. And then, without realizing how or why, it dies.
No-one will ever truly know exactly what when on in our mind; we can only guess. Sometimes you may meet someone so like minded that you think you know what they’re thinking, and they can seem to read your mind, but in the end we can only hazard estimates and guesses as to the thoughts of other human beings. Eventually all our thoughts, our personalities, our very selves will disappear, as they are only made up of memories, and will eventually fade into darkness…
…and whether there is a light after that darkness will forever be completely unknown to us until we actually experience it.
“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.” – Orson Welles
I took some clearer more accurate photos of the Tweedle Paintings in good sunlight. Please click below for the full image. :)
For a while, I’ve been working on creating a soundtrack for my artwork. I’ve heard of people composing soundtracks for films and even books, but can’t find much about composing for artwork. Yesterday, I finally finished my first soundtrack.
The Tweedle OST is an album consisting of a series of soundscapes, that are supposed to guide your imagination through the world of the Tweedles through the medium of sound.
I’ve created a Playlist of all my new songs, which you can now see on my youtube channel or via the link below. :)
My personal favourites from the OST are “03 – Hunted”, “06 – Stealing the Flagship Jabberwock” and “09 – Among Fallen Tweedles”.
Which song is your favourite?
Why is it that we find the dangerous interesting? Action movies, murder mysteries, killer robots, wars, dragons… and it’s not just in fiction. There are people who chase after tornadoes in plated cars. We can be mesmerized by the flickering flames of a fire. We as humans are drawn to the dangerous. The unknown. The fantastical.
Tweedles are equally curious in nature as humans are. The one in the picture above is learning about electricity, carrying it through its metal wires and redirecting it. Should we fear the unknown or should we try to understand it?
The Tweedle doesn’t even know where the electricity is coming from. It could be an angry god’s failed attempt at smiting it down with lightening? Yet it seems unafraid, even happy. Perhaps we as humans could learn a valuable lesson from this Tweedle…
This was a painting inspired by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam‘. In this painting, a Tweedle looks up at its human creator’s hand, gently reaching towards it.
Tweedles are humanoid in shape. They were invented in man’s image. As Tweedles learn more about the world around them, they attempt to mimic human behaviour but can never truly understand why we do the things we do.
For example, the Tweedle in this painting has adopted a red robe, similar in colour to its face cloth, because it has seen humans wearing clothes. It doesn’t fully comprehend the concept of clothing. It tries to understand by copying us, but ultimately the clothes serve it no purpose.
No matter how much a Tweedle tries to understand its creators, it never will be able to. It can never connect with what it is to be human, and so it is depicted reaching out but not touching the human.
We are reminded of the relationship Tweedles have with their masters. The hand is above the Tweedle. The hand may appear to be reaching out, but it could actually be a commanding hand. The sheer size of the hand compared to the Tweedle shows the power the human has over the Tweedle. While Tweedles are almost completely obedient, the Tweedle is unable to rebel against the human even if it wanted to.
The very hands that made the Tweedle stitched a smile onto its face. Tweedle don’t have real mouths, so the smile is fake. By the way its master has created it, the Tweedle is forced to smile every second of every day. Whether or not it actually would smile if it did have a mouth is another question entirely.
So, in this painting the Tweedle is seeking understanding, hoping that the human wants the same. The human in the painting wants control, obedience and power. The Tweedle’s desires for knowledge and understanding are benign, while the human’s command of the Tweedle could potentially be for their own personal gain.
The Tweedle will never truly know if their creator’s grand scheme is for the greater good… or for entirely selfish reasons.
What happens when a Tweedle dies?
It can think and feel. Due to variations in grown brain cells, Tweedles even appear to have their own personalities, so does it have a soul?
What Tweedles do have is a partially organic brain. Their ‘brains’ consist of artificially grown living brain cells. These brain cells are shut inside a protective casing that keeps them in a sterile, stasis-like environment so they don’t decay naturally. These cells are linked up to a microscale CPU, both of which are kept functional by a battery that utilizes nuclear fusion on a very small scale. All of these combine to form the mind of a Tweedle.
Surely everything that makes up a Tweedle’s sense of self is part of its mind. So if it had a soul, maybe such a thing would exist in its mind?
Do we even have souls, or are we just a product of our own minds?
Assuming only living creatures have souls, could a Tweedle ever be alive in the first place?
In the fictional world they inhabit, Tweedles are considered as an artificial life form. They can move, respond to stimuli and repair parts of themselves. Although Tweedles don’t have the knowledge, they theoretically could build new Tweedles. They have quite a few of the scientific characteristics of being alive, but do they count as living things?
And are we ourselves actually alive, or just biological machines like the Tweedles?
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of pictures of Tweedles interacting with chains. Chains in my artwork are symbolic of the master/servant relationship Tweedles have with their creators.
Because Tweedles can act fairly autonomously, they are often seen hanging from the chain or holding onto it, but never actually bound to it. They could easily let go of the chains, but are afraid to do so because they are built with an emotional attachment to their master; an unintentional but useful glitch in their creation.
When a Tweedle fails as a servant and is unable to return to them, it loses this emotional attachment and essentially becomes free. Without a true sense of what it means to be free, most Tweedles that have reached this freedom don’t know how to cope. Some wander aimlessly, some try to find a new master, and some simply stop working.
In this painting it is not entirely clear whether or not the Tweedle is hanging from the chain or standing on the ground holding onto it. For me this represents the lack of control the creators actually have on their creations. This could be further interpreted as the lack of control a higher being or God might actually have on humanity.
As I have quite a few canvas boards at the moment, I’ll be making a series of these paintings, using the Tweedles to explore themes such as free will, servitude, identity, and the problems of mind, body, soul and death.